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UK consortium to boost health care with medical drones
by Paul Hill
A UK-based consortium made up of Skyfarer, O2, Cranfield University, Phoenix Wings, and Altitude Angel is attempting to improve health care by creating a drone network that can speed up patient response and sample return times as well as make blood deliveries needed for transfusions.
In the future, the consortium hopes to create a national infrastructure that will enable same-day delivery with autonomous drones but for the time being, it will be focusing on the Midlands area of England which include cities such as Birmingham, Coventry, Leicester, and Wolverhampton.
In terms of its progress so far, the consortium has secured operational authorisation for extended visual line of sight operations (EVLOS) with an overweight unmanned aircraft system (UAS) from the Civil Aviation Authority. This will allow the group to do short-range flight tests which are due to commence after Easter.
In the next stage of the project, the consortium is going to carry out a study that will find out the best location for a potential drone corridor where UAVs will be able to deliver medical supplies without the need for a human driver. In the summer, the consortium will also perform delivery trials to see how the hardware performs.
If the consortium can prove UAVs are an effective method for medical supply deliveries it will improve the supply of blood needed for transfusions and it could also reduce the number of heavy-good vehicles on the roads. HGVs currently make up 17% of the UK’s domestic transport emissions so taking some of these off the roads will be beneficial.
Each of the members of the consortium is bringing unique expertise and resources. O2 will work with Ofcom to develop SIM cards for use in drones making medical deliveries to ensure they fly safely, Cranfield University will help stage the trials with its airport, Altitude Angel has the technology to let the consortium’s drones share airspace with planes safely and securely, Phoenix Wings will be providing a drone capable of carrying blood, and Skyfarer will co-ordinate. O2 said that Innovate UK will provide the funding for the project.
Cloudflare Waiting Room will help sites deal with demand
by Paul Hill
Cloudflare, the firm that helps sites protect against DDoS attacks, has announced a new product called Waiting Room. The idea behind the service is to protect appointment registration websites from being overwhelmed by high demand. In the future, the technology could be deployed on concert ticket websites but in the current climate, Cloudflare is offering it to governments and medical organisations.
With the pandemic making people sick and causing economic chaos, health and government websites are seeing increased usage as people try to access financial assistance, government guidelines about the virus and health advice. If government or health organisation get more demand than they can handle they can deploy Cloudflare’s Waiting Room with no need to change any code.
Cloudflare said that creating a new waiting room is really easy and takes just five steps to create. Institutions choose a name for the waiting room, check the hostname which is pre-populated, choose how many active users can be in the application at any given time, the number of users allowed into the application per minute and the number of minutes users are allowed to spend in the application.
With these controls, the waiting room can seamlessly switch on and off based on the demand the website sees, and by limiting session times it ensures that people can get fairly quick access to the content they’re waiting to access.
Anyone who finds themselves in a queue will be told they’re waiting in a queue due to high traffic on the website. The page automatically refreshes the estimated wait time and provides a timestamp of when the site was last updated. This information lets people know why there’s a delay and how long they’ll need to wait.
By Hamza Jawad
Microsoft teams up with Providence St. Joseph Health to deploy AI healthcare tech
by Hamza Jawad
Microsoft recently released a report that predicted artificial intelligence (AI) to contribute over $15 trillion to the global economy by 2030. The tech giant has indeed highlighted the importance of AI several times in the recent past, explaining how it is keeping infrastructure safe, describing how it is helping the environment, and even releasing a book regarding the role of AI in manufacturing.
Today, Microsoft has announced a new partnership with healthcare company Providence St. Joseph Health that is aimed toward improving upon the future of healthcare. This will made possible by leveraging the Redmond giant's AI services, the Azure cloud, and more.
A number of integrated solutions will be developed, making use of both the data and expertise provided by the healthcare firm, and the technology belonging to Microsoft. Not only will industry interoperability standards like FHIR be leveraged, but the services of Microsoft Azure will also employed to help the healthcare industry adopt the cloud at an improved pace. Clinical and operational decision-making will be primarily data-driven, with data sources existing in a secure cloud environment.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella commented on the new alliance in the following manner:
Providence St. Joseph Health will capitalize on the situational advantage of its affiliate hospital facility being present in Seattle, Washington, near Microsoft's Redmond headquarters. Innovative clinical solutions will first be introduced in this facility, with the goal of spreading them across the entire healthcare system of the Providence St. Joseph Health. The firm will also be using Azure as its preferred cloud platform as part of this deal, while simultaneously utilizing Microsoft 365 services, such as Teams, along with tech offerings, like Dynamics 365, to support patient engagement.
Incidentally, Microsoft recently launched a new podcast series based on the future of healthcare. The latest move indicates the tech giant's commitment toward advancing the use AI in the health industry.
Google to de-rank RT and Sputnik news outlets
by Paul Hill
In a recent Q and A between Alphabet chairman, Eric Schmidt, and journalists, it was admitted that Google is trying to find a way to de-rank the RT and Sputnik news outlets on Google News, which are often critical about the West and particularly its collective foreign policy. Ever since the election of Donald Trump, U.S. politicians have been trying to draw links between the Russian state, which partially funds RT and Sputnik, and Trump’s election win.
Schmidt said that Google was trying to find a way to make news from RT and Sputnik appear lower in the Google News rankings so that less people would end up on the sites. He did reiterate, however, that he didn’t want to ban the sites outright because “that’s not how we operate.”
Sputnik and RT’s Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan responded to the news saying:
The company’s decision to de-rank RT is quite baffling considering that it recently stated that RT didn’t break the rules on its other platform, YouTube, at all in the election process or at any other time. Google, Facebook, and Twitter all stated that while there were Russian presences on their platforms, but that their reach was miniscule.
As a side note, it’s important to mention that Eric Schmidt has been referred to by Hillary Clinton as a “longtime friend” and that he was spotted at the Clinton campaign headquarters on election night wearing a staffer’s badge.
Source: BBC News
Bring on 2018.